Friday, 22 February 2013

Drobo 5N and Drobo 5D speed comparison

DiskSpeedTest iMac27 Fusion 3Tb Drive
I usually manage to backup the varied computers around rashbre central.

We are currently phasing out the Time Capsules which spot passing laptops and back them up whenever they get a chance. I am wary of their reliability, having had two fail irretrievably also knocking out their wi-fi coverage. Pretty useless for a backup device outlasted by the thing it is backing up.

The main backup is still to a RAID disk array and we recently swapped a few components as part of tidying up the number of spare drives that had sprouted.

I thought I'd spend a few minutes running some tests to see how speeds have improved.

I used the quick, handy disk stress tester from Blackmagic. It alternatively writes and reads data of up to 5Gb and reports performance. It's informative, simple and free.

I started with the oldest RAID device on the system. It's a Lacie 5Big Network drive which is called HAL because of its big central light. It's 5x 1TB and dates from around 2008, running RAID5 with 1 hot standby disk. Until a few days ago it was the regularly used backup drive and is connected via 1GbE to the network.

Slow by today's standards, it is still fine for serving up documents but useless for editing photographs let alone video.

The second unit is a modern 2013 Drobo 5N, also network attached, in a RAID5 configuration with single disk redundancy (so one disk can fail and the show will go on). It uses 5xWD Red 3Tb (ie 15Tb total) and also includes a 256Gb SSD cache. It's named SAL after the computer that followed HAL in the Arthur C Clarke novels.

The third unit is a modern 2012 Drobo 5D, Thunderbolt attached, configured as RAID5 with dual disk redundancy (two disks could fail and it would still work). Inside it is identically configured to the Drobo 5N (5xWD Red 3Tb + 256Gb SSD).

Finally, for fast comparison a 3Tb Apple Fusion drive.

I should say it's all 'real world' and without any fancy configurations. Pretty much all of it is 'out of the packet' and part of the day-to-day network.

Here's how they got on:


What does it show?

Clearly the old 5Big Network drive is slooow, but still perfectly usable for simple routine document archiving.

The 5N is 3 times as fast for reading and 10 times as fast for writing. Backups are pleasantly fast to it, and I test copied about a 220Gb iTunes library to it in just under an hour yesterday (screenshot below)


The 5D is fast enough for routine use for video editing (Final Cut and Avid Composer) as well as use for Photo editing with Aperture.

The Fusion Drive is fast enough for anything I do, although it also illustrates that 4:4:4 video or 4K are outside of practical realms for domestic grade hardware.

I know it's not a lab test, but simply and pragmatically running a modern benchmark tool on my installed kit. I've logged it here as a reference point and possibly for quick cross checks by others.

Screen prints of the tests are here

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